US Catholic bishops are on a potential collision course with President Joe Biden after voting to commission a document that may call for him to be barred from Holy Communion. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) clashed online over whether to draw up a teaching document on politicians who support abortion.
Holy Communion is the most important ritual in the Catholic Christian faith. The Catholic president regularly attends Church services. Responding to news of the bishops’ vote, he said: “That’s a private matter and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.” The Vatican has already indicated its opposition to the bishops’ move. The Most Reverend Allen H Vigneron, vice-president of the USCCB, announced the move had passed by 168 to 55, with six abstentions. The United States clergy is deeply divided on the issue. The Most Rev Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, warned about the bishop’s move, saying such a document would lead to the “weaponisation” of the Eucharist (the more formal name name for Holy Communion). However, the Most Rev Liam Cary, the bishop of Baker, Oregon, said the Church was in an “unprecedented situation”, with “a Catholic president who is opposed to the teaching” of the Church.
The document will now be drafted by the doctrine committee of bishops in the US. Although it will be a form of national policy, it will not be binding as each individual bishop has the right to decide who should be blocked from the Mass in his diocese.